Kaikohe residents and businesses are being urged to slash water use by 25 per cent as the town's two water sources fall to perilously low levels.
The appeal comes as the Far North District Council considers further tightening water restrictions in the town, which would ban all use except essential cooking and hygiene needs.
Kaikohe's current level 3 restrictions ban the use of hoses, sprinklers and irrigation systems.
• Premium - Vandals attack Northland avocado orchard as water tensions escalate
• Water carriers rushed off feet as Northland runs dry
• Premium - Four Northland swim spots fail water quality tests including southern end of Paihia Beach
Council infrastructure manager Andy Finch said a 25 per cent reduction is required to protect the Wairoro Stream and the Monument Hill bore, both of which had reached extremely low levels.
"We want to avoid imposing Level 4 restrictions on the community but ... forecasters are unable to give us any good news about future rainfall. The truth is, we'd need several weeks of sustained rain to replenish what the last 12 months have taken out of our streams and groundwater."
Council staff were in contact with major water users in the Kaikohe area to find ways to reduce water consumption and waste.
However, everyone could help, Finch said.
"This is an opportunity for the community to make a difference. If demand for water in Kaikohe is reduced by 25 per cent over the next two weeks, our treatment plants and water sources stand a fighting chance of maintaining supply for all users.''
To help Kaikohe residents reach that target the council was offering to fix leaks at no cost.
''If you find a leak on your property, we will get you a plumber to diagnose and fix the problem.''
A dry 2019 — the third driest year on record for the Far North — followed by a dry summer so far has starved the Wairoro Stream, the primary water supply for Kaikohe.
Low flow levels also mean the water treatment plant has to work longer hours, up to 23.5 hours per 24-hour period, to meet demand. That puts the plant at risk of mechanical failure and makes maintenance difficult.
The Monument Hill aquifer, which also supplies Kaikohe, has not recharged to normal levels over winter.
The Kaikohe water-saving appeal came just a day after the council imposed level 3 water restrictions on Kaitaia, where the Awanui River — the town's main water supply — has also dropped to worryingly low levels.
It is now illegal to garden hoses, sprinklers or irrigation devices. Waterblasting and filling pools from the mains supply are also banned.
Finch said the council is exploring options to supplement Kaitaia's water supply from other sources, but in the meantime he asked residents to conserve water as much as possible.
■ To take advantage of the free leak fix offer, Kaikohe residents should report any leak to the Council at 0800 920 029 or visit www.fndc.govt.nz and lodge a request for service. For quick ways to find leaks see www.watercare.co.nz/Faults-outages/Plumbing-and-wastewater/Check-for-a-leak. Costs of up to $300 per residence will be covered. Go to bewaterwise.org.nz for more information about water restrictions and tips on saving water.